2013 Simplistic Reviews

November 1, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 13

Happy post-Halloween you creeps!  In this 13th episode of Simply Horrifying we have an episode that probably is the most memorable in my opinion.  Being a child of the late 1980s and early 1990s one of my favorite movies has “The Goonies” and this episode, entitled “Undertaking Parlor” has the finger prints of “The Goonies” all over it.

A group of friends stumble upon a town conspiracy to kill it’s riches residents and profit off of their funerals.  Starring John Glover as the town mortician and Data from “The Goonies” as Josh, the aspiring film director of the group, can three four friends put a stop to this evil plot or murder for profit.

Click the link above for the full review and don’t forget to subscribe, comment, or leave us hate mail, if you dare……

October 31, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 12

There were days when vampires were vampires and not whiny little bitches who sparkle in front of mouth-breathers.  Vampires were bad-ass creatures of the night that seduced women and drained them of their blood while making them their vampire mates.  Those were the days, or nights, if you will.
On this episode of Simply Horrifying we take on a little tale entitled “The Reluctant Vampire.”  A really strong episode from season three that finds Malcom McDowell as the titular vampire who works the night shift at the blood bank.  Fearing for his job when a blood shortage hits, he succumbs to his primal nature to save the bank.
Click the link above for the full review, if you dare……..
October 29, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 11

What’s scarier than a watching a stage version of “Hamlet?”  How about Jon Lovitz as the lead.  Of course I’m not putting Jon Lovitz down, even if Andy Dick did wish death upon him, I still think he’s great.

“Top Billing” is another fine episode from the already great third season of “Tales from the Crypt.”  The aforementioned Lovitz plays a down on his luck actor looking for his big break.  Seeing an ad for a stage production of “Hamlet” he thinks he’s finally found it, or has he?

Click the link above for the latest edition of Simply Horrifying, if you dare…….

October 28, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 10

After a bit of dead silence, Simply Horrifying is back!  In this ghoulish offering we witness what some people will do for money.  Pretend to kill themselves mostly, but if you think there won’t be any repercussions, you have to be out of your mind.

“The Trap” directed by Michael J. Fox, is an entry from the “Shock Suspenstories” line of comics where “Double Indemnity” is given a run for it’s money.  Starring Bruce McGill and Teri Garr, as a couple just dying to make it rich, “The Trap” is one of the stronger early episodes from Season Three of “Tales from the Crypt.”

Click the link above for the full review, if you dare……

October 25, 2013

This is Halloween: Ghostbusters II

UNDESERVED

Ghostbusters II – Undeserved

Will we ever see a “Ghostbusters III?”  The easy answer is no, the hopeful answer is, please no.  Trust me, “Ghostbusters” goes down as one of the best comedies of the 1980s, if not the best comedy from the past 30 years.  There was nothing else like it when it was released in 1984; a live action cartoon starring some of the funniest people in the world.  It made Bill Murray the biggest comedian in the world at the time, and the film still has a huge fan base to this day.  It’s a timeless classic that was way ahead of its time, but a third entry into the “Ghostbusters” saga would never work now, and would strictly anger fans of the first one while simply catering to today’s movie-watching public; a group of viewers who idolize Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and any other crap that today’s fast food media tells you to idolize.  Just look at what Michael Bay is doing to the “Ninja Turtles!”  But that’s a rant for another review.  Getting back on track, fast-forward five years and the gang got back together for 1989’s “Ghostbusters II” a sequel that gets an undeserved bad rap from fans of the original.

“Busters II” opens with Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) and her baby Oscar out for a morning stroll.  Needless to say something spooky happens and Ray, Winston, Peter, and Egon, The Ghostbusters, are back in business.  Apparently Dana’s baby has been chosen by an ancient evil to take over the world, it’s hokey, but that’s your plot this time around.  Throw in a creepy painting of an ancient European wizard/madman, a river of ectoplasm, and an art curator from the “Upper Vest Side” and you got a sequel, while not perfect, still captures the magic of it’s predecessor and manages to be charming.

The fact that the entire original cast decided to come back for the sequel says one of two things; 1) The story was interesting and funny enough to bring everyone back or 2) sequels usually equate to desperation for actors and greed for the studio.  Back in 1989 Murray was coming off of “Scrooged”  Dan Aykroyd, “Caddyshack II,” Harold Ramis had become more of a writer and director than an actor, and Ernie Hudson was coming off of “Leviathan.”  When I think about it, I guess it was time for a sequel to “Ghostbusters.”

While there are problems with the plot, which dances the line of parody of itself and ridiculous, it’s just nice to see the whole cast back together.  The addition of Peter MacNicol to the cast adds quite a few comic beats, and his interactions with Bill Murray are some of the best in the film.  To be honest, I almost prefer Murray’s portrayal of Peter Venkman in the sequel.  It seems that he has more to do, and unlike the original “Busters,” he is the big name and the draw, and he stands out from the ensemble this time.

The story gets a little sappy near the end with a theme that only kindness can defeat evil (I mean…..come on).  Granted, this film was coming off the Saturday Morning Cartoon, “The Real Ghostbusters” which I also adore beyond words, but I feel like the story could have used a little more bite.  It simply came off as a little sappy, and frankly, simplistic, to me.  If you asked a New Yorker to be nice, there is no doubt you would get a one-finger salute, especially in the late 80s/early 90s.  Maybe in today’s New York you would get a nicer response, but the New York of yesteryear would tell you to take a hike, and than probably knife you.

Overall, “Busters II” is a fine companion to the “Ghostbusters” mythology.  It bridges the gap between the two films nicely, and is just as funny as the original.  It really does get an undeserved bad rap.  Plus, they made Janine hot!  I mean there was even a cameo by Bobby Brown for goodness sake!  Booby FREAKIN’ Brown!  Mr. Humpin’ Around!  He just wanted a proton pack for his kid brother!  I’m sure if he asked Peter instead of Egon he could have gotten that deal to work.  But alas…..

Fun Fact:  For all you Nintendo fans out there, check out the sweet NES Advantage joystick that was used to control The Statue of Liberty.

October 22, 2013

This is Halloween: Maniac (2012)

Maniac (2012) – Perspective

PERSPECTIVE

In modern horror, the thought of re-making fringe horror films is always confusing to me. What audience is this re-make for?  Who is going to see it?  Is it viable for a studio to release a film that maybe a handful of people will see, let alone be nostalgic for?  I raise my hand proudly!  I love cult horror films, they always hold a special please in my sick little heart.  Some of my fondest memories, like I’ve mentioned before, was watching USA’s Up All Night, and MonsterVision on TNT with Joe Bob Briggs.

While horror in recent years has been stripped of its soul and replaced with found footage and other nonsense, it’s nice to know that someone is still out there respecting the cult horror of yesteryear.  That person is Alexandre Aja.  This Frenchman knows his horror, even if its over-the-top, gut-wrenching, blood-soaked horror, its the horror that I love.  He knows just how far to push the exploitation envelop, and while he might not have directed the film I’m about to get into reviewing, he was the brainchild behind developing  the 2012 remake of “Maniac” based on the 1980 original.

“Maniac” stars Elijah Wood as Frank, a loner who runs a mannequin shop in an unnamed urban sprawl.  Devoted to his work, needless to say he has a hard time connecting with the opposite sex, so he does what any normal person would do;  he trolls dating sites (a plot point that quickly loses steam), murders, and scalps women.  That is until the day he meets Anna, a young artist interested in his mannequins.  While Frank tries to pursue a normal relationship with Anna, his thirst for blood is unquenchable and he continues to kill.

Sure, I’m simplifying the plot for sake of spoilers, but there is a lot to like about “Maniac.”  While there are are deviations from the original, namely the infamous “Disco Boy Scene” the remake focuses on Frank’s relationship with his mannequins, women, and his rather complicated mommy issues.  While the “Disco Boy Scene” would have been cool to see with modern SFX, it would have added nothing to the remake overall.  But fret not gorehounds, there are plenty of moments where you’ll forget all about “Disco Boy.”

Comparing the original “Maniac” to it’s remake is tough to do.  The original relies on tension, with a grimier and grittier look, very reminiscent to Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver.”  Joe Spinell, who was already a pretty rough looking dude, plays Frank to a tee and there is never any doubt he’s a maniac.  The on-screen murders are brutal and you feel the terror of his victims as well as the pain of Spinell who is acting against his will and can’t stop killing.

This time around Elijah Wood plays Frank, and while you might think Wood as a murderous creep is a tough sell, see what he did in “Sin City” as Kevin, or just see what he’s doing now as Ryan Newman on “Wilfred.”  Wood gives a convincing performance as the twisted serial killer who collects scalps, which he adorns to the top of his mannequins’ heads.

The choice to shoot most of the film from Frank’s perspective is an interesting choice.  It’s found footage without being found footage.  I would almost consider “Maniac” the serial killer version of “Enter the Void,” from Gaspar Noe.  You might even call this film a “first-person killer.”  There are a few scenes where the camera swings around to reveal Frank making a kill, but for the most part, I like the idea of “actually” see ing through the eyes of the killer.

Is 2012’s “Maniac” and improvement over the original?  It all depends on your perspective.  The original was playing up the fears of the still-fresh-in-their-minds “Son of Sam” murders in New York from the late 1970s, so it was reasonably timely and terrifying at the same time.  The remake is pretty much a shot in the dark, cashing in on the found footage craze and the dying out torture-porn aesthetic.  It’s also rips off some of the retro-style of “Drive,” however, I respect the fact that directors and writers who are fans of cult genre fare, like “Maniac,” decided to take the proverbial stab at making a genre film that only hardcore horror fans would be familiar with.  I salute Aja and director Franck Khalfoun for creating something with teeth to compete against dribble like “Paranormal Activity 45: Stop Moving Into This House!” and doing a little-known classic justice some 30 years later.

Fun Fact:  “Goodbye Horses” by Q. Lazzarus, is featured in another prominent film; 1991’s “Silence of the Lambs” which also featured a serial killer who murdered women.

October 21, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 09

Welcoming you back to the Crypt, this is Matt with another edition of Simply Horrifying.  As we creep into Season Three of “Tales from the Crypt” we start off with a real bang, and a snap, and a pluck of your eyeballs with the help of a circling vulture.
“Carrion Death” is not only a clever name, but it’s also a damn good episode starring  Kyle MacLachlan as a murderer who not only just escaped death row, but just robbed a bank too.  What a go-getter.  With a cop in hot pursuit, Mexico in sight, and a pesky vulture looking to grab the leftovers, what will become of this unlikely trio?
For the full review, click the link above, if you dare…….
October 18, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 08

Welcome back to Simply Horrifying as we reach an end to Season Two of “Tales from the Crypt” with a twisted tale of secrets identities entitled, cleverly enough, “The Secret.”  It’s a nice wrap-up to the season that was arguably the strongest season out of the entire series.  Also of note was that this was the second episode in the series featuring Larry Drake, who you might remember as the psycho Santa in the Season One episode, “And All Through the House.”

Click the link above for the full review, if you dare…….

October 17, 2013

Simplistic Reviews Presents: Simply Horrifying featuring Tales from the Crypt Ep. 07

The number seven is lucky for some, but guess what, it isn’t for you!  HAHAHA!  Well, you must be kind of lucky if you’re back and ready to enjoy another episode of Simply Horrifying.  In this terrifying tale we see what it really takes to make it in show business as Morton Downey Jr stars in “Television Terror” one of the first haunted house-style stories to appear on “Tales from the Crypt.”

Click the link above for the reviews, if you dare…..

October 17, 2013

This is Halloween (TV): Toy Story of Terror

DEVILISHLY

Toy Story of Terror – Devilishly

The one thing you can count on with Pixar is that you always get quality.  Despite some of their weaker efforts (“Cars” “Cars 2” to a lesser extent, “Brave”) there always seems to be a silver lining to anything Pixar creates.  I may not like “Cars” but I can respect that it looks gorgeous.  Sorry “Cars” fans, I just don’t find fart jokes spun by a redneck comedian to be very funny.

While most Pixar fare is made for the big screen, and evokes such emotion and heart, its nice to see that Disney/Pixar (yes, I’ll give Disney their due) created something for the Halloween season, and it very well might be the best thing you’ll see this Fall.  This of course is the devilishly clever “Toy Story of Terror” a spooky mini adventure starring all of your favorite “Toy Story” pals.

The writers at Pixar have to be some of the best writers in the world.  They know how to perfectly cater to fans of Disney while at the same time sneaking in little odes and jabs to other films and their appropriate genres and fans.  They just get it, simple as that.  “Terror” begins at some point after “Toy Story 3” ends.  Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the crew are in the care of Bonnie as they head to some undisclosed location on a dark and stormy night.  After a flat tire, Bonnie, her mother, and the toys settle into a roadside motel while they wait for the tow truck in the morning.  Needless to say, hi-jinks and close-calls ensue and of course there is a happy ending.  Like most Pixar films, its not the story that’s always compelling, its the actual journey.

What I respect the most is that all the voices from the previous “Story” films return, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Joan Cusack, but there are also a few extra treats along the way, including Ken Marino, or as I like to refer to him as, Louie, the “I WANNA DIP BY BALLS IN IT” guy.

Along with Ken Marino, what would a “Toy Story” be without some new characters, and the best has to be Combat Carl, voiced by Carl Weathers.  This character is so perfect and I love the subtle reference to “Predator” thrown in as Combat Carl is missing a hand.  Those are the things that make me love Pixar.  Who would throw in a “Predator” reference into a TV show made for children?

Timothy Dalton is also great as Mr. Pricklepants, who’s essentially Randy from the “Scream” series.  He calls out horror movie cliches at every turn and it’s wonderful to see it done in a Shakespearean way.  The more I think about “Terror” is that the animation is for the kids, while the dialogue is made for adults who love horror and action films.  Maybe Shane Black ghostwrote this entire special?

Bottom line, “Toy Story of Terror” is a wonder to behold.  The story is perfect for the time allotted, the introduction of new toys now looking for their owner adds a great side story to the entire “Toy Story” mythology, and Pixar and Disney spare no expense to create a standalone story that rivals anything in the Pixar catalog.  Hopefully this tradition continues and becomes this generation’s “Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.”

Fun Fact:  Everyone knows that the Cowboy Woody doll is pretty sought after in the “Toy Story” universe.  You’ll notice that the $2,000 winning bid was from Al McWhiggin of Al’s Toy Barn.

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